Promises of blacktopping roads make the difference

Yangchen C Rinzin | Bumthang

The promises to blacktop three farm roads and equip the Wangdicholing hospital with four specialists have succeeded in convincing the people of Chhoekhor and Tang gewogs to vote for Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa’s (DNT), the ruling government.

A Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) stronghold for the last 10 years, DNT managed to win the constituency in a landslide victory where the DNT’s candidate, Dawa, swept nine out of the 11 polling stations.

Former journalist with the Bhutan Broadcasting Service Corporation, Dawa won with a huge margin in votes cast through both postal ballot and the electronic voting machine (EVM). Out of the 1,281 postal ballot votes, 864 votes, more than double, were for Dawa. On the EVM, Dawa secured 2,889 votes of the total 3,315 votes.

A total of 4,596 out of the 6,219 registered voters turned out to cast the vote out of which 1,281 did through postal ballots. Dawa secured 371 of the 474 votes from Khangrab polling station, his village in Tang gewog. At the Chhoekhor polling station, Dawa won 149 more votes.  250 people voted for him and 101 voted for DPT’s  Tenzin Norbu.

During the campaign period, Dawa promised to blacktop the 18km farm road from the gewog centre in Chhoekhortoed to Narphel, the 10km road to Dhur from the gewog centre and another 12km from Tang gewog centre to Tandigang. This was emphasised by the DNT president, Dr Lotay Tshering who said that he would reward the people for their support by fulfilling the promises.

Voters in the constituency said that the president who is also the prime minister was convincing when he said that people should grab the opportunity of having a representative in the government from the constituency even if it had always voted for the DPT.

Voters said that it was the promise of farm roads more than the promise of specialists that made the difference.

Voters, after the election, said that they voted for Dawa, as the chances of fulfilling the promises were real. A voter Leki, 65, said  he thought it was a wise decision to vote for Dawa because he can raise the issue and ensure that promises are fulfilled.

The DPT’s candidate, Tenzin Norbu, not making any promises also helped voters decide.

“The DPT candidate did not have any promises and the ruling party was very sure that they could fulfil the promise,” said Leki. Another voter, Pema Namgyal, 33, said that it was better to choose the ruling government because if they stick with DPT it would not make any difference. “So, we decided to vote for the ruling government, which will benefit us more.”

Agreeing with many voters, Druk Phuensum Tshogpa’s candidate Tenzin Norbu said that the result was proof that democracy is all about pledges. “The prime minister has assured that the pledges would be fulfilled. So, probably people voted for DNT,” he said.

Tenzin Norbu secured 1,707 votes, 1,290 on the EVM and 417 postal ballots.

Meanwhile, Dawa who after the results was overwhelmed by guests at his home in Tang said that he had always been honest since the beginning with the narrative that the bye-election is between the ruling government and the opposition.

“People will know the advantage of voting for the government. They know what the government could do for them,” he said.

However, he said with the result comes the responsibility and he would ensure that the pledges would be fulfilled.

“I know the Covid-19 situation and financial situation, but we’ve promised and we cannot use Covid-19 as an excuse to not fulfil the pledges,” he said.

“I will have to push and I already feel pressurised.